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Sedona Red Rock High teacher and cross country Head Coach Joe Fuss won the Sedona Marathon on Saturday, Feb. 10, with a time of 2 hours, 55 minutes and 15 seconds.

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By Nick Ruland
Larson Newspapers

He outperformed Lance Armstrong in an endurance event.

Sedona Red Rock High teacher and cross country Head Coach Joe Fuss won the Sedona Marathon on Saturday, Feb. 10, with a time of 2 hours, 55 minutes and 15 seconds.

The time was four minutes better than seven-time Tour De France winner Armstrong?s finish at the New York Marathon in November. Armstrong ran at sea level and on flat land.

Fuss was 4 minutes better than his nearest competitor, Ironman hopeful Scott Bolin, of Coarsegold, Calif.

?Who doesn?t like it when the hometown guy comes in first?? Fuss asked.

?I wanted to do run a fast marathon and do as well as I could,? he said.

Fuss finished third last year with a time of 3:11:24.

He pumped his training up last September in preparation for a good showing.

Fuss ran between 40 and 50 miles per week. Included were 11-mile speed-training runs and three-week increased interval long-distance runs of up to 24 miles.

?Training is a huge part of the marathon. There is a lot that goes into being dedicated enough to execute a solid training plan,? Fuss said.

Fuss said that, mentally, there is more work done before the race than during. But at mile six, he was ready to take off.

?I was feeling great. I felt I could have gone a lot faster, but if I did, I would have been crawling the last five miles. You have to be patient,? Fuss said.

Fuss wore a global positioning device that not only showed his location, but calculated his pace. Fuss stuck with his game-plan throughout the race. He finished with a 6:42 per mile pace.

It didn?t all go as planned.

Fuss got a blister on mile 23.

?I felt it start to bulge out at mile 8. But I was not going to stop or slow down. I lose skin, big deal,? Fuss said.

?At mile 23 it was like a quick pin prick and tingly sensation but only three miles to go,? Fuss said.

As Fuss crossed the finish line, he thanked God.

Fuss said that for much of the near three hours on the course, he talked to God about keeping him healthy during his training and race.

Considering how far ahead of the pack he was, he didn?t have anybody else to converse with.

?I was thanking him for the great opportunity I had,? Fuss said.

According to marathon expert Paul Piplani, it?s estimated that the rolling course and 4,500 foot elevation causes a 10 percent increase in times from sea-level and flat marathon courses.

The Boston and New York marathons are generally won with times between 2:05 and 2:15. Despite Fuss? potential, he does not believe he will start running or training for marathons regularly.

?We will see. I might do a couple. It is just so hard on the body. Trying to make yourself run fast at long distances is flirting with disaster on your body,? Fuss said.

Second place


Second-place finisher Scott Bolin [2:59:07] just wanted to break three hours. With the goal accomplished, his arms found his knees at the finish line — a surreal combination of complete exhaustion and exhilaration.

Minutes after the race, Bolin could barely stand, let alone speak and think.

?This was a mental challenge,? he said.

Bolin was training for an Ironman competition in June.

?I like hilly courses. I turned an ankle on a rock and the dust really kicked up. It felt like I had cement in my shoes,? Bolin said.

Oldest finisher


Richard Howland, a 76-year-old Sedona resident, finished the marathon in just under six hours.

?I was actually able to sprint the last half-mile to the finish line. Before then, I was ready to drop. There is a reserve of strength when you see or smell the finish line,? Howland said.

?Even though your time means nothing, you want to get the best time you can. Every second counts,? Howland said.

Howland?s last marathon was 17 years ago in Boston.

Howland got a foot cramp on the turnaround more than 13 miles into the race. It was the first foot cramp he could remember experiencing.

?I don?t get foot cramps; get the hell out of here,? Howland said.

?The breathing alone is hard. You can overcome the lack of strength in your legs and body. It?s almost an oxygen depletion thing. I couldn?t talk for three days,? Howland said.

Despite the agony, Howland came away with positive impressions.

?It?s the camaraderie amongst the runners. It takes an enormous amount of courage when everything in your mind tells you to stop,? Howland said.

?It is a tremendous feeling when it is over. If feels so good to stop,? Howland said.

?Afterwards, we had a champagne toast. ?Never again,?? Howland said.

Ultra marathoner

Paul Piplani runs marathons like the average person does laundry — every weekend.

Piplani, a Phoenix resident and India native, ran his 763rd marathon in Sedona on Saturday. The 59-year-old Piplani is seeking to break the Guinness world record for marathons run and age for 1,000 lifetime marathons, which is 70.

?The Sedona marathon was a cool down from the other week,? Piplani said.

Piplani is an ultra-marathoner. He ran one the week before.

Incomprehensibly, an ultra-marathon is 100 miles. It took Piplani more than 29 hours to complete his race last weekend.

?[In an ultra-marathon], you are going against the grain of normal day-to-day life. You are fighting the odds, fighting darkness and fatigue. But if you give up in your mind, you are done,? Piplani said.

?You can have tons of excuses, but it is a continual awareness that you are going to do your best for that moment,? Piplani said.

Piplani, despite some grievances with the start time and location of the finish line, casually enjoyed himself Saturday.

He thinks the Sedona marathon can be a much larger event that attracts the best runners in the world.

He ranks the Sedona marathon in his top five races.

?It is beautiful,? Piplani said.

Piplani has run in every state in the United States and on every continent of the world.

One wonders why Piplani runs over 3,500 miles [excluding training miles] and 95 marathons a year.

?I see the need to grow up and be less of a jerk to other human beings over the course of the day,? Piplani said.

The Canadian triathlon team, with many members training for the Olympics, swept the top places in each category of the 5k and half-marathon.

All who were interviewed for this story wanted to thank the volunteers for the tremendous organization of the event.

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